Sometimes even good kids find themselves in over their heads and that is exactly what happens to Elwood. Where other boys might have gotten a slap of the wrist, Elwood finds himself being sent to a notorious boys reform school that is not concerned with reform or schooling these kids. Elwood is gifted but the only learning he will do at Nickel is to obey, don't ask questions and keep your head down. He is beaten, abused and mistreated as much as the other Nickel boys and yet he just wants to rise among the ranks and get out.
One of the other boys there takes him under his wing and tries to teach him some street smarts but even the best among them might never get out. Based on a true school in Florida, this is a sad story of the Jim Crow South where blacks exist only if the white men in charge allow it. Shocking but steeped in beautiful prose, it is a young boy's belief in something good. Colson Whitehead's words will stay with you.
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